"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires." James 1:19-20 (NLT)
I had been lied to, betrayed and hurt. I was angry, and thought I had every right to be.
Day after day, anger crushed my desire to forgive. Although I had asked God to fill my heart with mercy, my mental list of reasons I should be mad kept overriding my empty prayers.
It was as if voices in my head were arguing with each other. One tried to convince me I was correct in feeling angry; the other tried to persuade me that mercy was the right choice.
For months, the loudest voice was the one that aligned with my damaged emotions, and unfortunately the one I listened to. Yes, I have a right to be angry. Anyone would agree.
Listening to the voice of bitterness and unforgiveness, I started lashing out in my actions with impatience and unkindness. Oh, I could play the good-Christian-girl for a while, masking my feelings. But if something was said or done to trigger my suppressed hurt, hostility and resentment would catapult to the surface.
Reading our key verse from James one morning, I felt God urging me to realize the misleading direction my emotions were taking me, and damage they were doing. I couldn't help but notice how it says "everyone" should be slow to speak and slow to anger.
This truth from God's Word left no room for my excuses or righteous indignation, even though I felt like my anger was justified for being wronged. And then a few verses later, I read James 1:22: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (NIV).
I knew that from a worldly perspective, I had every right to be angry. But from God's perspective, my anger was adding to the sin of the situation. My unforgiveness was keeping me from living out the reality of the Gospel in my own life—by extending the same mercy and forgiveness God has given me through Jesus.
Through the words of James, God softened my heart, making me aware that although I said I'd forgiven this person with my words, I had not forgiven with my heart and it was time to do so and move on.
In every area of life, including managing our most powerful emotions, God tells us to be quick to listen (to Him and others), slow to speak and slow to become angry. As we apply these practices in our relationships, we become 'doers' of His Word, not just 'hearers' and that leads to the righteousness God desires in each of us.
Dear Lord, please forgive me for harboring anger in my heart. Equip me with a supernatural ability to forgive those who have hurt me and to guard my heart when old emotions threaten to surface. Strip my heart of anger and replace it with joy. Thank You for Your mercy. Help me be more merciful because of You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
by Tracie Miles